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A Brief History Of Basketball

FREE Basketball E-Book The history of basketball is definitely both unique and fascinating. In the year 1892 at Springfield, Massachusetts, basketball was invented by Dr. James Naismith, an instructor at Springfield College. Dr. James Naismith first posted the rules of his new game on the bulletin board of the gym in 1891.

Dr. James Naismith Of course, the rules governing the game of basketball has changed since 1891; however, there's little doubt that Dr. Naismith won't be impressed with how much the sport which he invented out of neccessity has grown and attracted immense fans from around the globe. He will be equally as impressed with how more and more basketball players are learning and mastering the fundamentals of basketball. Click here to download a FREE E-Book on the fundamentals of basketball.

The game of basketball was not accidentally invented, but was deliberately thought out to meet an alarming situation of loss of interest in physical education programs during the winter months.

Trying to find a game that would keep up interest in physical education and development Dr. Naismith hit upon the idea of putting up peach baskets at each end of the gym, choosing up sides, using a soccer ball because of its roundness, and with a few additional rules to avoid a blood and thunder battle, the first game of basketball was played.

The entire world (especially in the US) will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. James Naismith for devising the game of basketball. Can you imagine our lives today, if basketball had never been invented? That's right, all the great memories you have of all your favorite collegiate and NBA players would have never been created. Speaking of the NBA, do you know who scored the very first basket in the NBA? Give up yet? Watch the following video to find out--this was a very pivotal moment in the history of basketball.

The Invention Of Basketball

Dr. Naismith deliberately made up this game of basketball to meet a need. He chose to have a game with a ball, preferably large, since a large ball could be easily handled and little practice would be needed by anyone to catch and throw it.

Deciding that to permit running with the ball by a player would result in some kind of physical contact and roughness, Dr. Naismith decided that running with the ball would be eliminated, but that the player could throw or bat it with his hand. Thus the player had to stop immediately when he received a pass. At least he had to make an honest effort to stop or otherwise pass the ball. Another rule was that the fist was not to be used— again the idea to avoid personal contact and roughness.

For the goal or object of the game Dr. Naismith thought of two boxes but all the janitor had on hand were two peach baskets which served the purpose and also provided a name for the game—“basket ball”.

Original Rules Of Basketball

The original rules for the game as devised in 1891 were as follows:

1. The ball could be thrown or batted in any direction, using one or both hands but no fist.

2. No running with the ball was permitted.

3. The arms or body could not hold the ball.

4. No shouldering, pushing, tripping, striking,or holding was permitted. The first infringement counted as a foul; the second disqualified the player until the next goal was made.

5. Three consecutive fouls by one side gave the other team a goal.

6. A goal was made when the ball was thrown or batted into the basket and stayed there.

7. An out of bounds ball was thrown into the field with the first person touching it, playing the ball.

8. The game consisted of two fifteen minute halves, with five minutes between halves.

Teams Originally Consisted Of Nine Players

The first game of basketball was played with nine men in contrast to the five used today. Of the nine men, there were three centers, three guards, and three forwards. Two center men were chosen to jump for the ball at the opening of the game.

The game of basketball has definitely increased in pace and the number of points scored during a game compared to when the sport was first invented in 1891. Formerly in basketball's infancy it was not uncommon for a final score to be three to four, many times only one to nothing. People did not consider it unusual to play an entire half with no score.

Introduction Of The Dribble

The original rules did not mention the dribble which developed in response to the need of getting some place when in possession of the ball. A closely guarded player holding the ball and unable to pass to a teammate had to find a way in which he could voluntarily lose possession of the ball and yet regain it shortly. By rolling or bouncing the ball the dribble was started. Shortly after this the double dribble was defined, the use of alternate hands allowed, and a clearcut definition of the overhead dribble given.

Out Of Bounds Rule Is Established

One of the really rough spots of the game as originally played was the out of bounds rule per-mitting the first player to touch the ball to gain possession. Football dives were not uncommon and injuries fairly frequent. However the rule remained practically the same until 1913 when the opponent of the player who caused the ball to go out of bounds put the ball into play. This caused a great deal of delay and led to the adoption of the present rule in 1914 which allowed any member of the opposing team to put the ball in play from out of bounds.

The Free Throw Line Is Established

The next historical step in the development of the game of basketball was the adoption of the free throw line from which the penalty point was tried by the fouled teammate. Then came the two points for a field goal and one for a foul. These changes had taken place by 1896. When the free throw was first introduced a member of the team was selected to make all free throws. The rule was later altered so that the person against whom the foul was made attempted the free throw.

The Center Jump Is Eliminated

The center jump was used from the very beginning both to start the game and to continue play after a goal was made. Later, the center jump was eliminated, with the opposing team taking possession of the ball out of bounds under the opponent's basket when a goal has been made. The elimination of the center jump after a goal was made naturally increased the pace at which the game was played.

Basketball Uniforms Of The Early Days

Basketball equipment during that first decade of the new game's history was, of course, not nearly as standardized as it is today. Players wore long trousers, track suits, football clothes and short sleeved jerseys. Spalding happened to list the first basketball outfit consisting of three types of pants: Knee length padded pants, Short padded pants, and Knee length jersey tights. Both quarter length sleeves and sleeveless shirts were suggested.

The Original Basketball Is Re-designed

Historically, there have been fewer changes in the ball used than in any other piece of basketball equipment. At first, an ordinary soccer ball was used. About three years after the introduction of the game the Overman Wheel Company made a larger ball which was adopted officially.

The 1933 rules still listed that the ball should be between 30 and 32 inches in circumference—the same as in 1894. In 1934 the size was reduced to a minimum of 29½ inches, with 29 inches for Junior High Schools.

The weight in 1898 of a minimum of 18 ounces and a maximum of 20 ounces was found to be too light to have the required lasting qualities. The weight in 1909 was fixed at between 20 and 22 ounces.

basketball U.S. patent #1,718,305 U.S. patent #1,718,305 was granted to G.L. Pierce on June 25, 1929 for the "basketball" used in the game.

The Basketball Hoop Is Re-designed

The most interesting development in basketball history is the change from those early peach baskets (nailed at each end of the gym) to the modern net baskets of today. These peach baskets were of sloping design, and, when nailed to the end board, naturally dipped.

Furthermore, they wore out quickly. In 1892 these baskets were made of heavy woven wire to increase their lasting qualities. Early rules stated that a goal was made only when the ball stayed in the basket. Thus baskets attached to a balcony were easy to manage with the spectators picking the ball out after each goal.

When fastened to the side wall, however, a ladder was used which would be extremely funny today. Naturally this slowed up the game and it is not surprising that soon a hole was drilled in the bottom of the bas¬kets so that a stick could be inserted and the ball punched out. As commonly happens, the stick was often missing.

In 1893 came a basket similar in some respects to the modern day one, consisting of an iron rim and a cord basket. With the net basket (which was also closed at the bottom) a chain was attached with a pulley device to the bottom of the net so that when the ball was in, a pull on this chain popped it out.

Later, to make the equipment more exact, braces were used and screwed into the rims instead of welding. The braces were soon taken out, and the nets opened.

The Backboard Is Re-designed

Almost rivaling the development of the basket itself was the change in the backboard and the reasons for these changes.

When crowds began to view the games they sat in the balcony to which the goals or baskets were attached. It was too much of a temptation to watch a ball almost go into the basket but not quite; so, many times a backer of the team would come early, take a seat directly above the team's goal, and help each try for the basket with a gentle tap.

The second year of the game a rule was added providing for a screen to protect the basket from the spectators—a backstop, six by four feet, the size of the old style backboard. The new fan shaped board is 54 by 35 inches. These screens were of various material making the rebounds different in different gyms, consequently a disadvantage to the visiting team. These screens also became grooved. Finally the wooden backboards came in.

In 1909 plate glass backboards enabled spectators behind the backboards to see. Again teams that had not practiced with these glass boards were at a disadvantage. Rebounds were different than on wooden equipment.

In 1916 the rule stated that the backboards were to be painted white, making the plate glass boards useless as a visual accommodation for spectators.

It is hard to imagine a basketball court of various shapes, but such was the case in those early playing days. The first two years saw an imaginary boundary line; in 1894 the line ran at least three feet from the wall or fence (according to the rules)—many times this line would weave in and out to allow for stairways, offices and other obstructions on the gym floor.

In 1903 came the requirement for a straight boundary line, later that it must be a rectangle. At first size was not considered although there was the stipulation that the larger the court the larger the number of players. From 1896 to 1908 the official size of the court was set at 3500 sq. ft. of playing space. At that time (1908) the maximum court was 90 x 55. In 1915 the width became 50 ft.

The End Zone Is Introduced

A valuable contribution to the game was the introduction of the end zone in 1917, with a radius of 17 ft., its center the free throw line. Not until 1933 was this end zone line and space considered part of the court. The addition of this space made the maximum official court 94 x 50 ft. In 1922 the free throw line was extended but discontinued in 1925. In 1932 the center line was introduced.

Attempt To Standardize The Rules Of The New Game Of Basketball

One of the greatest drawbacks to the game was the fact that from the very beginning of the game there was no uniform set of rules by which the game was played. The first three or four years saw the Y. M. C. A. making and developing the basketball rules but with so many outside basket-ball organizations it was not satisfactory.

Then the Amateur Athletic Union assumed the responsibility of organizing the rules. In 1905 a group of colleges decided to publish their own rules. In 1915 these three bodies met in the form of a joint committee and formulated one set of rules. In 1929 the high schools joined the committee. The Canadians are also represented.

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